Balotelli dedicates winner to Seedorf
ESPN FC: First game, first win for Seedorf
Mario Balotelli dedicated Sunday's match-winning goal against Hellas Verona to AC Milan's new coach Clarence Seedorf, who also received a seal of approval from Rossoneri legend Fabio Capello.
Balotelli's penalty eight minutes from time in the 1-0 victory at the San Siro ensured a winning start to Seedorf's reign as Milan coach, reducing the deficit on fifth-placed Inter Milan to seven points.
"This is a win that we all dedicate to him," Balotelli told Sky television. "The first game is always the hardest because we had not put ourselves in an easy situation.
"He organised us very well, fielding practically four forwards and asking us to put the pressure on them as quickly as possible, and it worked. I think we played a good game. Let's hope this is the turning point. A good start is half of the job done."
Capello, who led Milan to four Serie A titles in the 1990s, added that it may not have been the most emphatic of starts, yet all that mattered was getting the three points to restore some serenity to the club. The Russia manager backed Seedorf to bring the right, winning values back to his former club.
"He's matured a lot and gives me the impression that he knows where he wants to go," Capello told Italy's Fox Sport. "He seems convinced in his own ability and, above all, that he can give something to this side.
"He can't give them much in terms of experience because he doesn't have that, but above all he can form a group and create a certain mentality -- a winning mentality which has always characterised Milan."
That mentality helped Capello win the Champions League with Milan in 1994, but he cannot see them repeating that this season. Atletico Madrid are the opponents in the last 16 and they, according to Capello, are already a bridge too far.
"I'll be supporting Milan, but they don't have much chance," said the 67-year-old. "Atletico are a very difficult team to beat. I've said Real Madrid [are favourites for the Champions League] all along and I still believe that while Manchester City are really strong, and then there is Barcelona as always.
"Bayern Munich are another one of the favourites, but if I had to draw up a table, then I'd put Real ahead of all of them."